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'The Mysteries of Laura' review: Messy, but star Debra Messing has potential

Debra Messing as Laura Diamond in the pilot

Debra Messing as Laura Diamond in the pilot episode of "The Mysteries of Laura." Photo Credit: NBC / Jessica Burstein

THE SHOW "The Mysteries of Laura"

WHEN | WHERE Previews Wednesday night at 10 on NBC/4 (then airs in its regular 8 p.m. time slot, starting next Wednesday).

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Laura Diamond (Debra Messing) is a smart, skillful NYPD detective who has an extremely messy private life -- badly behaved twin boys who have a habit of getting expelled and an almost ex-husband, Jake (Josh Lucas), also with the force, who doesn't do much to help with the child-rearing. At least she has a patient and well-organized partner at work, Billy (Laz Alonso). In this preview, she heads upstate to Bedford, where someone wants to kill a tech billionaire. This new series is filmed entirely in New York.

MY SAY In Laura Diamond, Messing has a potentially engaging character in a potentially fun series that could offer potentially clever whodunits week after week.

But "potential" (you guessed it) is the operative word here, and tonight's preview doesn't offer a whole lot more than that. This jarring, discordant opener (comedy? cop procedural? mystery thriller? who knows?) features a grating Columbo wannabe with an obnoxious ex, and a deplorable brood, yet insists that we find the inherent charm in each of them.

This series, which blends and bends genres, tries to balance sketchy character development with a sketchy tone, then ends with a payoff that's rushed and implausible. The opening sequence features a high-decibel chase scene that climaxes with Laura shooting off the ear of a perp -- all this as pretext for a wisecrack: "I'm type A and I practice with this thing [gun] all the time." Blood's splattered on a bystander, which she casually wipes off. All in a day's work.

That "potential?" Messing's an excellent actor surrounded by equally good ones in Alonso and Lucas, as well as other pros from the New York acting world. Plus, this show just doesn't glance at the city as much as embrace it. That's all good, and a sign that -- given time -- "The Mysteries of Laura" will sort out all the other stuff.

BOTTOM LINE Messy, discordant opener with potential.

GRADE C+

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